Willis, who had yielded just two earned in his first four starts, was pounded for six runs and five hits while retiring just three batters in a 12-9 loss at San Francisco on Friday. Last year’s NL Rookie of the Year was staked to a 9-2 lead after one inning, but couldn’t retire a single batter in the second.
Making matters worse, Willis was pitching in front of 150 friends and family from the Bay Area.
“Give me seven runs, and I’m not going to give up (that lead) in front of all my friends,” Florida manager Jack McKeon said. “You’ve got to make them earn it. Maybe he got too hyped up. Hyped up or not, it’s a seven-run lead. Keep them in check.”
Earlier this season, Willis had a streak of 27 1-3 consecutive scoreless innings.
Florida snapped a season-high four-game losing streak with a 2-0 win over Los Angeles on Wednesday night.
The Marlins blew leads of at least two runs in each defeat during their four-game skid—the worst of which was Willis’ meltdown in San Francisco.
Milton Bradley, mired in an 0-for-13 slump, grounded into three double plays in Wednesday’s loss for Los Angeles.
Shawn Green is also struggling at the plate for the Dodgers, managing just one hit in his last 14 at-bats. Paul LoDuca, batting a team-best .375, has driven in just one run in his last 10 games.